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Fish farms to get Fairtrade certification for first time

 

February 16 2011 Lewis Smith

 

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Farmed prawns could soon seek Fairtrade certification

Tiger and King prawns are set to become the first Fairtrade seafoods in a move aimed at bringing social and environmental improvements to fish farms.

The Fairtrade Foundation is working on creating certification standards for small-scale prawn farms in Asia by the end of November, the first time it has ventured into the fishing industry.

Fish farmers who are granted certification will be expected to reduce the environmental impacts of their production methods.

Details of what they will have to do to win certification are yet to be agreed but likely measures are expected to include strict restrictions on taking breeding stock from the wild, a move that would be designed to improve sustainability. Other measures are likely to limit the quantity of fish meal fed to the farmed prawns.

One of the problems Fairtrade certifications is intended to curb is the destruction by prawn farmers of mangroves that are a crucial habitat for many fish and shrimp. The mangroves are also considered to be vital defence mechanisms protecting inland areas from erosion and flooding.

In return for improving the natural environment the prawn farmers will be given support to help them make a living, partly by organising them so that they get fair prices from buyers.

The Fairtrade Foundation has until now concentrated on certifying crops grown on land but has now decided small-scale fishermen should also be supported.

It is the first time the Foundation has ventured into the fishing industry but once it has agreed the terms of certification for farmed warm-water shrimp, which include tiger and king prawns, it plans to expand to include other species of farmed fish such as tilapia. It hopes, eventually, to be able to certify artisanal marine fisheries.

Kenneth Boyce, of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "We are developing standards in the aquaculture industry, the first species being shrimp."

Fairtrade campaigners hope small fish farms in Asia, especially in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, will be he first to join the scheme.

Certification standards for the prawn farms are expected to be put out for public consultation in April and the Foundation hopes to have the agree rule in place in November. It hopes the first certified fish farm, will also be declared by the end of the year.

 

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